Friday the 13th (1980)

1980-friday-the-13th

Friday the 13th: B

You already know what this one is all about: Some teens (including young Kevin Bacon) who like to bang each other get together in the woods to spruce up Camp Crystal Lake and they are systematically slaughtered while they try to bang each other. This is (arguably) the father of modern teen cut-em-ups and it’s full of too short cut-off jeans, games of strip-Monopoly, and first-person POV stalking. When people think of corny slashers, the images that come to mind are straight out of this movie, no doubt.

Just because it is one of the originals doesn’t mean it is perfect. I see people going easy on this movie all the time and this has resulted in an inflated collective memory we all have of this not-too-special movie. It’s understandable that this happened; this is a movie that sort of sucks objectively, but has been emulated for 30 years. It is a bad movie that people have used to direct and create good movies. If you don’t consider the “implications” of this movie, you aren’t left with much to praise. It is pretty fun, but not that good. When is the last time you actually watched it?

Mrs. Pam Voorhees is the killer in this one and she is creepy for sure. She’s wearing an adorable sweater that there is a 100% chance your grandma owns as she butchers the shit out of these kids. She isn’t revealed until the end; there’s some misdirection here so you think that, because of all the brutal first-person and the campfire stories, Jason is killing everyone. Nope. It’s Jason’s mom, who is punishing these teens who like to bang each other because some other teens who liked to bang each other were supposed to be watching her son who drowned. She has this split personality tick that makes her talk like her son. “Kill her mommy! Kill her!” It is disturbing.

The murders look alright. Savini was on effects but, again, nothing to stop the presses over. There’s a lot of stabbing here. Stomach stabbing, neck stabbing, chest stabbing. Pam stabs Kevin Bacon with an arrow. It looks slightly better than what other slasher movies were doing around that time, but for the most part, it hasn’t aged well. There is a scene where one of the teens is crucified and impaled with arrows. It looks above average.

There’s a scene at the beginning of the movie where the teens find a snake under a bed and they hack it with a machete (killing the snake IRL, fucking assholes). I took a film class in which the instructor insisted this was an important scene and he offered a cornucopia of take-aways: Maybe this is a clever scene that exists to introduce the violent atmosphere of the film. Maybe this is foreshadowing of Mrs. Voorhees’s death by machete. Maybe this scene is supposed to show that these teens are the type to take action and they will fight back. Or (here’s what I think) maybe it’s supposed to be a cheap jump-scare. I don’t really know. It’s not my job to interpret everything for you. But let me know what to make of that snake scene (fucking assholes).

The acting is terrible, not that anyone could possibly care. The teens who like to bang each other are all pretty and look like they belong in a Levis jeans commercial, but their acting would be at home in any grindhouse midnight-movie garbage. They only exist to look physically perfect while banging/dying.

Alice, the “final girl” chops off Mrs. Voorhees’s head with a machete. Jason famously wields a machete for the rest of the franchise. That’s poetic justice I guess. The movie wraps up with Alice waking up in a canoe and one of the most famous jump-scares of all time.

It is sacrilegious in some horror circles to criticize the “13th” franchise at all, so I’m sure someone is crying right now because I didn’t give this movie an A++. Boo-hoo. I also cannot get past the fact that this movie came out shortly after Halloween (which is a good horror movie and a good movie-movie) and the director admits he just wanted to ride the wave of that movie’s success.

I don’t know. I’m a philistine I guess.

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